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Upgrading Training and Certification? 381

An un-named reader asks: "For various reasons, I've been out of the workforce and IT industry since 2000, before which I was employed as an NT-based sysadmin at a large Canadian company. After moving to NYC I found the market flat and got into other work for a while. Now I find myself wanting to get back into IT professionally, but my resume is getting no nibbles at all (over 800 resumes submitted in the last year or so). As a result, I decided to take some training courses to get me back up to speed not just in the W-Intel world, but give me some usable knowledge of Solaris, a CCNA and Checkpoint. Here's where things bogged down. Are there any decent schools out there who have good facilities, good instructors and do more than 'teach-to-the-exams?"

"I checked out just about every 'school' offering training and placement in the New York City area, and frankly each of them almost had me running screaming into the night. Atrocious facilities, hot, stuffy, cramped classrooms and teachers whose every other words are 'memorize this--it will be on the test.'

Most places were shocked when I said I didn't care about certifications and exams. I explained that I need not just the theory but some hands-on experience with hardware that I don't have access to at home, and knowledge sufficient to at least get me something entry-level once again.

I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't viable options for me. Since I'm not currently employed, I also need some form of placement assistance as well. Frankly, I didn't think this was too much to ask for until I really started looking. I looked at Learning Tree specifically, but their policies are strictly business-to-business training, not to individuals."

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Upgrading Training and Certification?

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  • If you just stick to the schools that "teach to the exams" you will get more than nibbles on that resume.
    • by mAIsE ( 548 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @08:00PM (#5098712) Homepage
      I have been in the IT industry for 8 years, I have 5 certifications. Only one of those is still on my resume (though they are all still valid). In my experience people don't want to see certifications they want experience.

      I would suggest

      1. find a direction, UNIX, Networking (Cisco etc..), programming (what ever language)

      2. try to simulate a working environment at home, buy cheap equipment on eBay, etc..

      3. study for the exam but don't go to the classes (they are mostly useless), Use your setup at home to simulate a working environment.

      4. get books (at least 3 on the subject) and study materials on the subject of choice and dig deep, devour all the material on said subject cover to cover twice.

      This process will really teach you,

      Most of the time things learned quickly are lost quickly.
      • I've been in the IT industry for 33 years. I have an MCSE that I've never really used, keep it somewhere off in the fine print of the quals. Still glad I got it though (never completed the degree).

        Two things: (a) keep your reading up. Never slack off on that, and (b) be willing to take on work beneath your skills and do more than you're asked. If you can't get a promotion you can leverage the experience for the next job.

        One of the things that helps (I've read a *lot* of resumes) is to emphasize things you've done, not tools you've used; e.g. "I'm helping to build a cathedral" rather than "I'm laying bricks" point of view. Treat the tools you know as incidental to the job of helping your employer achieve their aims.

  • by Tofino ( 628530 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:24PM (#5098460)
    Several coworkers, and myself, have taken courses with ITI []. [] I've been impressed by the breadth and depth of knowledge they come out of the course with. I've always been disappointed by courses that skim the surface, or that pander to the lowest common denominator in the class. Instead, ITI tends to weed out those who can't keep up, rewarding the bright folks who pay attention.
    • ITI: Nonsense! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ITI is useless. You leave there with about $30k in student debts and in a field where the hiring is very weak.

      I've met some really bright people that came from ITI, but the majority I've met (80%) are people who feel that they're supposed to earn a wad a cash without proving themselves. It sucks that one pays so much for schooling but that doesn't give you a right to demand a massive salary or delude yourself that you're better qualified.

      Go to Sheridan College or some other technical school. It's cheaper, more well-rounded, and has placement people who actually care for you to get a good job.

    • at 20 grand US for an 18 month program in systems administration it better be good...
  • Volunteer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by leerpm ( 570963 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:24PM (#5098467)
    Perhaps try seeing if you can get a non-profit organization to go along with you. They provide some of the hardware, and you 'learn on the fly'?
  • Every incompetant dimwit and his mother has A+ certification... Which is why it doesn't mean jack anymore except maybe to get a job at Best Buy.
  • Community college? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squant0 ( 553256 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:27PM (#5098483)
    Why not check out some local community colleges?
    Many have expensive hardware that you can play with and will teach you lots of stuff that would never even be on one of those exams.
    • In my experience, the community colleges are the worst for catering to the lowest common denominator of students.

      Every time I've taken a course at one, the class is divided into two groups of people, those who are there to learn, and those who don't know why they're there. The ones who don't know why they're there don't do any of the assignments and try to learn as little as possible. Invariably, the class is dumbed down to suit them, and the most interesting half the of the material is skipped.

      ProfQuotes []
    • I teach at Iowa Central Community college and I tend to think that we have a great program.

      EVERY class is hands on including the 4 semesters of Cisco Academy, 2 semesters of Novell Netware, A+, NT/2000 Pro/server, Active Directory, Unix, Security, Network Documentation, telephone systems, Fiber Optics, C prog, Visual Basic, Network+...

      All of those are individual classes that we have. Every student gets their own client and server in most classes. Plus Cisco switches, routers, pix firewalls, AT&T PBXs...

      Check it out:
    • by twocents ( 310492 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @08:08PM (#5098768)
      I have to agree that a community college can truly kick ass if you are looking for direct learning. Some might be terrible, but here are some simple pointers:
      --Make sure the class outlines are detailed. If they are not, then that is a major red flag, indicating that people in the know are not involved in the creation of the course.
      --Search for the name of an instructor on the web. You never know, and since Google will pick up a lot of newsgroup archives, you might just find out that a particular instructor is very active in the developer community.
      --Does the community college have decent labs? If "good" money has been spent on buying equipment, then good money might have been spent on instructors.
      --Email the instructor. Why not? They don't make money off of you directly, so just ask them some well thought out questions and weigh their responses.

      On an aside, training/certification can help but don't forget that user's groups, mailings lists, and other forums are filled with people such as yourself looking to get hired and those looking to hire. Don't turn your back on the very technology you are looking to work in! (-:
  • Fuhget about it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msfodder ( 610252 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:27PM (#5098484)
    Certifications get you exactly squat in a flat market.

    It's all about who you know, how you know them, and your experience(maybe).
    If you are a CCIE you may be in a certification niche where certs are noticed.
    Otherwise you are a dime a dozen.
    • by joshuac ( 53492 )
      didn't he specifically say he was not interested in certs, but rather gaining experience in multiple areas? He is looking for a school so he can get easy access to different hardware and possibly some people who can answer his questions one on one. Buying a lab for home learning isn't cheap, and sometimes it is good to have a live person to talk to instead of depending on nntp.
    • Agreed.

      No one's going to pay you big bucks for just babysitting shit anymore...

      CCIEs are worth something; CCNP by itself ain't worth shit.
    • Get the certs if you can. Why? There are *so many* people that are out of work, *anything* like that could give you the edge that you need.

      People that have no certs but "have experience" are a dime a dozen.

      Go the extra mile to stand out.
  • If you can not find classes to teach the skills companies want, then teach yourself!

    There are many useful books out there on every computing subject, and all you need is the self-discipline to assign yourself learning projects. While you may not have a 'certificate', you will be able to confidently add it to your resume, and walk the talk.
  • I understand about learning by demonstration, but you seem to have exhausted those options. So maybe learning by doing would not be ideal, but better than the instruction that is available.

    I know there's a simulator for the CCNA. As for solaris, you could always get solaris x86, buy an old sun off ebay, or pick up the (relatively) cheap blade 100 to get some hands on.

    The only individual training company I've heard good things about was DevelopMentor. Unfortunately they focus on software development, not administration or networking.
  • by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <spoonyfork&gmail,com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:29PM (#5098499) Journal

    It has been my experience (and others that I know) that getting a job is a lot easier if you know someone at the place you want work at. If they have enough swag to put in a good word for you, that foot in the door could push your resume to the top of the stack. Cold calls are a rough way to go.

    Training? Necessary.. but experience is king.

    • Certainly, networking will yield the best results in terms of jobs.

      Unfortunately, you need to know people who are working at a place that is hiring...

      Right now, 50% of my friends are out of work and looking, or are working at a place that won't be hiring in the near future, or are in a completely different industry from me (I have a house, and switching careers would mean selling the house).
  • by t0rnt0pieces ( 594277 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:29PM (#5098504)
    You didn't discuss this in your article, but do you have a college education or are you self-taught? This isn't 1999 anymore, the job market is right. Really tight. Virtually every job ad I've looked at required *at least* a BS, and many even want a masters. It may not even matter how much experience you have or how good you are, someone with a BS probably has an edge over you (if you don't have one). Assuming you don't have a BS, I would start taking classes at one of the many fine universities in NYC. CUNY is a cheap public university in NYC, if price is a big concern. If you do have a BS, think about a masters or maybe take the teachers advice on going for certifications. These days, paper chasing may get you a job faster than hands-on experience.
    • Hmmm, they must be looking for people with Master's degrees because I get no nibbles with my experience AND a Bachelor's degree.
  • by nemaispuke ( 624303 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:32PM (#5098520)
    If you are looking for Solaris training, go right to Sun. Their courses are not cheap ($2500-3000 per class) but you get hands-on, books that are worth their weight in gold, and a good feel for Solaris. And the other benefit of coughing up that kind of cash is that only people "who want to be there" will be present. My previous job gave us three weeks of Solaris training (not by Sun), and three of us spent most of that time training everybody else! I wouldn't worry about Cisco training, there are lots of CCNA's out of work. And although many people will tell you "learn Linux", I think having some education and experience with a major vendor's product is more helpful (in my case Solaris and AIX). But that is just my opinion.
  • GlobalKnowledge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NetJunkie ( 56134 ) <jason DOT nash AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:32PM (#5098522)
    I took the CCNP Boot Camp at Global Knowledge a little over a year ago and was very happy. A lot of hands on work with some of the best instructors I've ever had. We covered a lot of real world scenarios that I use constantly now.

    I absolutely hate certification mills, and this wasn't one. Good facilities with plenty of lab equipment to go around. They also bring in snacks, which were great. :)
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:33PM (#5098525)
    Training is about passing the cert exams. Why? That's what most people want.

    People want the certs because they think its the key to a job. Or people need the certs, because their PHBs require them to get/keep/update certs.

    PHBs want certs because it shows they're hiring a "qualified" workforce. HR people screen for certs because they're usually too ignorant to look for anything else, and they all have nice acronyms they can type into search engines.

    If you want to actually *learn* something, most IT training isn't the place to find it. Cisco training by and large is pretty good, but it still focuses a lot on "Psst, it's on the CCNA test". I've taken MS training that's been OK, although the "learning" was something that could have been compressed into 2 days, minus the bullshit and compulsory 20 minute cig breaks every 60 minutes.

    I think the best learning is the hardest kind; pounding your head against the CRT until the manpages, HOWTOs and other stuff sink in and you can actually string stuff together. It's incredibly frustrating and time consuming compared to having someone teach you, but AFAIK there's no one actually *teaching* most of what most admins do.
  • CCNA the ebay way (Score:5, Interesting)

    by redbeard_ak ( 542964 ) <> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:37PM (#5098551) Homepage
    I recommend purchasing a 1700 router and/or a 2900 switch from ebay. You can set up configurations, learn the CLI and play around. Flash the rom, reload the O/S. All that. The cost is less - be patient and you can get a 2900 for less than $400 like I did.

    After the test you can resell it for what you got or you can keep it and use it in your home. Can't do either with a class.
    • Re:CCNA the ebay way (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kenja ( 541830 )
      Cisco 2514. Low cost, can run latest version of IOS, had dual NICs to setup and test firewall configurations and virtual networks. Add to that a 1600 and a serial x-over cable and you can simulate T1 connections.
    • by __aanonl8035 ( 54911 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:52PM (#5098662)

      There are some things you will only learn by having hand on experience with an actual router in your hands. Back in the day, it seemed like all the classes and training were using the 2501 for testing. I wanted to pipe in and mention a very good software simulator of a small LAN environment.

      Ive used this software, and it is really good. You can drag and drop different routers and connect them up through swtiches or serial cables and run through all the commands of setting up a connection. Setup RIP, IGRP static routes, etc.. It feels very much like being logged in to a cisco router.
    • Re:CCNA the ebay way (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:02PM (#5099397)
      The down side to having a router and a switch is that there isn't a whole lot you can do with it.

      At the basic level, you need at least 3 switches. One for location A, one for location B, and one to act as a 'Core' switch. At that point, you can start playing with VLANS.

      Add a 2500 or 2600 series router and you can do 'router on a stick' routing between thoes VLANS. Add another router or two, and you can play with OSPF and EIGRP.

      For the cost of all this crap, just spend $149 and get Boson Router Sim. It has 5002 switches with catalyst OS and 1900 series switches with IOS. It also has 800, 2500, and 2600 series routers.

      Boson supports most of the commands and will even spit out a config file that can be uploaded into an actual Cisco router. You can also use it to buils HUGE networks. One of the things I do is give newbies a Class C block and have them allocate it for 20+ routers, 10+ switches, and 3 or 4 workstations over several VLANS. Usually makes them tear their hair out.

      And the best part is that Boson can be had for less than the price of an e-bay router.
      • Not flamebait:

        What employer, EVER, would say that experience IN YOUR HOME in any way equals that of a real-world environment? When is what you do in your own home, even with a traffic simulator, analagous to a real world environment in the eyes of HR (the people who give you a shot at getting an interview with the folks who will appreciate knowledge)? If it isn't in your Employment Experience: section no one gives a fuck. Just like you can build a spectacular open-source app in your spare time but when it comes time to interview all you can say is "i wrote an IMAP proggie in my spare timezor."

        And Christ, I wish that wasn't true. The coding I've done in my spare time more than qualifies me for jobs ten feet further down the trough than what I'm capable of. And I live in NYC just like the original poster, so I know the job market he's talking about.

        Trust me, experience, degrees or certifications are the only way that HR knows that you weren't just another .bomb dropout who tried to cash in on the boom but actually knows zip. Sad but true. The only way that this kind of experience will help you is if you lie about your experience and have the skills to back it up.
        • Re:CCNA the ebay way (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 )
          I agree with you completely.


          Not everyone is dumb enough to try and work for a large company. Try reading "What color is my parachute" for tips on turning your knowledge into a job.

          Here is how it breaks down:

          You do a resume. You send it to HR at $SomeBigCompany. The guy reading it has a thick stack on his desk. The first thing he does is throw out anything that looks unprofessional. Pink stationary, non-standard paper size, handwritten or large fonts, anything that does not conform to the 'standard' resume format is tossed.

          Next, he does a grep (or just looks) for MCSE, CCNA, A+, Masters, Batchlor, RHCE, CCNP, CCIE, etc... All the files are sorted in order from most certifications to least. Usually the top 10% are thrown away due to 'overqualification'.

          Next, he does a prelim interview. This is to ask some basic questions and see if you fit into the 'company culture'. Anyone not wearing a conservative suit, nice tie, and SHINY shoes is never considered. Remember, this man knows nothing about technology.

          Anyone who gets past this guy goes to a second interview with the boss of the section you will work in. This guy is most likely a program manager. He know something about what you will do, but is not an expert. He just wants to get a feel for wheather or not you will show up on time, work hard, and stay late when needed.

          There is an alternative. Look for small companies. Call the local cable company and ask for a tour of the network shop. Geeks love to show off their stuff (clear cases, open source, etc..). Call some consulting firms and ask who does the installs for their clients. Get into a local computer/linux/d&d group and ask around.

          You will find that other geeks tend to work in the tech sector. They will know if there is an opening in their company. They can get you directly through to the project manager. If you display competence, he will probably hire you.

          Once you learn the networking system of getting hired, you will never do the whole resume trolling thing agian...
  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:38PM (#5098555) Homepage Journal
    You and me both have been out of work since 2k...

    Any drive up 101 in the bay area would tell you that the economy here evaporated like the water in the salt marshes out in the bay. The mass exodous of people OUT of the bay area since the crash hasn't helped things at all either, since the companies they are retreating from either closed shop, outsourced in some manner (domestic or foriegn) or they've made the coders become coder/tech writer/IT persons/janitors all rolled into one.

    I hate to say it, but IT people seem like more of a perk to companies so the coders don't have to take on that roll. Unfortunatly having 20 coders arguing over the network setup usually results in a half-assed network that we IT guys end up cleaning up in the end when the company caves in and decides to make a budget for IT again.

    After working for PHB's for 8 years, me and my IT buds are burnt out. Working for people you KNOW are dumber than you eventually might bring you to this conclusion..

    If I know i'm smarter than this jackass who can't copy and paste something into his powerpoint presentation, then why is HE the boss, and why am I his lackey?

    So my advice to you is don't worry about the job market right now in IT. Most companies are outsoucing IT to save money, so you could go down, file a ficticous business name for 40 bucks and be in business. Be your own telemarketer, call up the CFO's of companies in your area and ask them if they would like to "outsource" IT. PHB's love that buzzword "Outsource"
    • You made some good points. I just finished reading a mailing list where one guy in Silicon Valley applied for an IT job along with 5,000 other people.

      I'd suggest the guy that posted the article forget about school, certs, and all the rest of the stuff that companies claim they want as a smoke screen to exclude local workers. If he's really crazy enough to want a job in a disappearing profession like American IT, he should move to India. Then he can either come back as an H-1B or L-1 or stay in India and get one of the outsourced jobs.

      The part I don't understand is that when the manufacturing jobs went overseas, we were told that it was a good thing because our workforce could be redeployed into the exploding field of Information Technology. Now that IT jobs are following the manufacturing jobs, what are the displaced resident workers supposed to do? Is it Burger Technology for all of us? Can we make a living providing fast food for each other?

      American companies are claiming they have to outsource their IT work to remain competitive. With only burger-flippers left in America, who will buy their products? Are there enough marketroids, PHBs, and CEOs to keep the economy alive, or is there some new field that all the IT workers can move to?

      And I am not dissing burger-flippers - I do enjoy the forbidden quarter-pounder and fries on occasion. They just don't get paid very much. :)
      • If he's really crazy enough to want a job in a
        disappearing profession like American IT, he should move to India. Then he can
        either come back as an H-1B or L-1 or stay in India and get one of the
        outsourced jobs.

        Lol I was []
        thinkin the same thing awhile back :) I guess it really depends on how much
        you love your work.. I mean shit, i'm starting to think it's not such a 1/2
        baked idea now.

    • That is pretty much my tale as well.

      I stopped working full time in Dec 2000 and haven't looked back. Now I work approx 2-3 days/ week and charge $75/hour to do the same things I was doing for about one third that while I was working full time. The companies are happy because even though the service is pricey, it is less costly for them than having someone on full time. Hint: Look for the smaller shops...the ones that can't really justify having somebody there full time. They're your best prospects.
    • I hate to say it, but IT people seem like more of a perk to companies so the coders don't have to take on that roll. Unfortunatly having 20 coders arguing over the network setup usually results in a half-assed network that we IT guys end up cleaning up in the end when the company caves in and decides to make a budget for IT again. Since when are "coders" not IT people?
      • Because there is a difference between development and laying down a network...

        With networks, there is a clear way of doing things. RFC's, topologies, protocols, they all have a straight set of rules of how to set things up and where to look when things go wrong. Setting up networks is more of a repatitive task that does not involve a lot of creativity. IT problems can be catalogged in a vantive database till eventually all IT problems can be cataloged and indexed.

        On the other hand, development "read coders" have to be more lateral in their thinking. They cannot simply look at the debugger and have it tell them "This is what you should have written!" because debuggers only point out mistakes, and there's no way for it to know your intentions. It's a very creative process that involves keen concentration in the very least to get it accomplished.

        Most coders I know want nothing to do with the PHB's having problems with their PPT presentations, which makes me wonder if you're just not a coder, but a troll biting for me.

        Well, either way, that's the difference between IT and Development. Sure there's many different type of "coders" from device driver to web application people, but they need their concentration all the same.

    • You are speaking the truth there. I work(ed) for an outsource IT company and even they found it hard to keep work as clients were cutting IT budgets like nothing else (40% in the place I worked).

      I've given up, I'm off to work in the Alps for the winter and get some quality snowboarding time.

      And you think the your boss is bad. Ain't got nothing on most of the PA's to Bank execs.
      PA - "I'm a VIP. Fix my blah blah blah."
      Me - "I'm sorry. That's how the software was written."
      PA - "...I'm a VIP, just fix it."
      Me - "I can't. It's designed to do that."
      PA - Pauses for a bit - "You must be able to do something.
      Me - "No, I can't do anything. Now if you'll excuse me I have other calls to attend to."
      PA - "I'm a VIP. Don't you walk away on me!"
  • is about as good and respected in the industry as A+ certification. If you're going to get a Cisco cert, you have to get at least CCNP. In addition, check out the new security cert they're offering.

    In my opinion, if you have experience with networks (NT or therwise) I'm sure you could home study for the CCNP (the RAS exam is the most difficult) cert.

    I can tell you that the West Coast is FLOODED with MCSE and CCNA types... don't know about the East Coast.

    Good luck.
  • Cisco (Score:3, Informative)

    by unicron ( 20286 ) < minus cat> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:38PM (#5098559) Homepage
    A lot of community colleges have arrangements with Cisco to be authorized to teach thier Academy Program. The CCNA Academy alone is 4 semesters, so you can see they're aren't skipping much. And the end of the 4 semesters, you get to take the cert at like 1/3 the cost. Heck, if I remember correctly, they'll even give you a second attempt at the same price.
  • What you're really saying is that you want a CS graduate degree.
    • What you're really saying is that you want a CS graduate degree.

      What he said is that he'd like a job in IT. And in this climate, a graduate degree isn't going to help him any more than certs. He'd be unwise to invest time and money in a graduate degree to get a job that's gone elsewhere.

  • Woa (Score:4, Funny)

    by houseofmore ( 313324 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:41PM (#5098594) Homepage
    "NT-based sysadmin"

    <CTRL> <ALT> <DEL>
  • by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:42PM (#5098598)
    I found that registering a business name and a business license is the _best_ form of certification.

    Certification means "To confirm as genuine". People are more apt to believe someone with a business card can fix their computer woes than a stack full of resumes littered with acronyms (CNE, MCSE, CCNA, A+, WYSIWYG, ad infinitum ad nauseum)

    If you know your stuff and can fix a clients problem, it doesn't matter what your certification is. All people want are results.
  • Get a Degree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dougthebug ( 625695 )
    If you didn't mention you were unemployed, I'd say apply to your local university and get a B.S. in Information Systems Management or something similar. From what I've seen, most IT positions these days require a B.S. in a computer related field. A degree in ISM can be your ticket into a nice job. Plus, most Universities have great job placment programs.

    However since you said you were unemployed, all I can say is get some student loans and/or hit up the local Junior College for some supplemental education. You'll have better luck their than at most of these technical colleges that advertise on tv.
  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:44PM (#5098607) Homepage
    Ok here is the skinny from my experience and flame away. But if you do it this way you can grab a lot of certs and learn a lot along the way. Nothing is better than real world experience but a little paper behind you doesn;t hurt.

    A+ - Everyone and is brother does have it. So get it anyway. One book and one week studying. Took the tests back to back. Shows you have some basic hardware knowledge. Cause hardware and software knowledge don't exactly walk hand in hand.

    Net+ - Another easy one but really good in the sense of getting you up to speed on networking essentials. Subnetting, IP, the language and eqipment.

    Linux + - Learn the fundementals of Linux - Pass the test. Good starting block for your RHCE.

    RHCE- Do I need to explain this one? Red Hat is the industry standard Linux at the moment.

    AS for the MS stuff. It is good to have the hands on experience and the classes as well. the 2000 and net stuff is not all that easy. The 4.0 was a walk in the park. Professional and server are easy exams. But AD and the other ones are a bitch because they expect you to have experience with the product. And the exams are adaptive, very hard to teach the test with these. And also whose fault is it if you but cheat sheets?

    I am a fairly good Linux Admin, and a Fairly good Linux admin. I do not code. Don't want to. I just like keeping the highways a rolling. I don't care what you drive on them.

    But I will say this. A good Linux admin will not be a good windows admin and vice versa. Because both will be predisposed to see all bad in the opposite product. I look at windows and linux for the respective uses of each. Do not tie yourself down with one. Stay off of OS bandwagons. Learn as much as you can about both. Or any OS you can.

    I find myself time and time again sitting in the middle of the fence. My linux pals who dog Windows cause, they ***gasp*** cant admin it, and are too proud to ask someone or check MSDN. Or the Windows bunch who are stuck on reinstall when something craps out.

    • If you don't know how to code then you are not a good linux or any *nix admin. That's the sad and sorry truth. You may be competent, but you are definitely not good.
      • All the programmers where I work can't even set up windows without help from the help desk. Anytime they need help in coding for our internal crm app they are always talking to our database admins who can't code either.

        I've tried to get our programmers run apps from the console instead of terminal server, but they just don't listen. And after much pain and misery I adopted a policy of always asking our VP before doing anything for our programmers. Otherwise I would get in trouble.
    • Specialize (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ian Bicking ( 980 )
      I wouldn't really agree. Well, it might go okay, but I think there's a real benefit in specializing. As time has gone on I've become more and more specialized in the tools, languages, and environments I use. In part I can do this because I get to choose my environments, which I know isn't possible in lots of jobs. But still -- if you commit to something, and you're thoughtful enough to commit to something that warrants it, it pays off.

      For instance, I write about 95% of my code these days in Python. I'm really good at Python. Yeah, I know, a good programmer can learn any language quickly, and knowledge of a language doesn't make you a good programmer. But it makes a big difference for productivity. It also means that you can get more attention in those jobs that require your specific skill. My experience in other languages is very important to me, but there's another kind of experience that you can only achieve with expertise.

      The jack of all trades is sometimes called for. But the jack of all trades must rely on networking -- because there's a lot of them out there. Sure, some are better than others, but you're still just an IT handyman. You'll need to distinguish yourself with something other than your resume.

      The specialist may have only a small pool of jobs they are right for. But they are very right for those jobs. You can be good, you can attain real expertise in your field, people outside of your workplace might even know who you are. If you aren't good at networking through personal connections, then specialization is the only way you'll become networked.

      Of course, you're betting on the technology, and if you bet long enough you'll always lose. Becoming a Tcl expert a while ago would have probably worked well, but now it's tanked. The mainframe specialists are all having hard times now. Eventually you'll become out of date, so you have to know when to jump ship for another specialty.

  • Well, the best way to get a job, is to HAVE A JOB! I know, it is a catch-22 but it follows the logic of if you were any good someone would have hired you. It is an asine attitude but what can you do.

    Most manager's don't at certifications so much as a evaluation of skill any more. Usually if you have 6 years of experience in something and get certified in that you will look good, rather than you have been in the business 6 years, got certified in JYMBO software, but have no experience.

    So what I am basically saying is, get certified in the stuff you already know, people will respect that more than, the Course to Pass Exam

  • Now I find myself wanting to get back into IT professionally, but my resume is getting no nibbles at all (over 800 resumes submitted in the last year or so)

    As the title of this reply says, the condition of the market really depends upon your perspective as one who does the hiring or if you are looking for a job. I can't tell you how many good resumes I have rejected in the past couple of years for a number of reasons. There are so many highly qualified folks out there looking for work right now that one can afford to be quite selective when hiring. Man, some of the resumes that have ended up on my desk almost scare me from being over qualified. These are really smart and capable people and I want to surround myself with people like that, but I can only hire so many.

    I decided to take some training courses to get me back up to speed not just in the W-Intel world, but give me some usable knowledge of Solaris, a CCNA and Checkpoint.

    I would suggest that getting a good all around knowledge of UNIX under your belt as Windows certification (as well as many others) does not really say much to me. What is most important is that you are capable of getting work accomplished, so perhaps including in your resume projects you have worked on and some description of what they were.

    Additionally I usually take applicants out to lunch or dinner and talk about the task they are interested in applying for and seeing how they interact socially. As a former dean of our medical school once told me, "Hey, if I can't enjoy a meal with someone, I certainly can't work with them". So, yeah, the interview is very important and I have rejected a couple of highly qualified applicants because they needed some social skills. One highly qualified dude (on paper) with a PhD in computational chemistry actually snapped his fingers at a waitress during lunch and demeaned her in front of the entire resturaunt and I simply will not tolerate that sort of behavior.

    I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't viable options for me.

    From your description, it sounds like you might be interested in going back to school? It's not as bad as it sounds and I know many folks including a brother-in-law who after looking for over a year for a job as a technical writer decided he wanted to go back for a formal theory based approach to his interests last year. He was able to get a second B.S. pretty quickly and grooved on the academic thing and is now in grad school.
  • Workforce Investment Act of 1998

    If they still have funding and you're currently unemployed, check them out. Government assisted retraining. Lots of paperwork and meetings, but if you're approved, you get up to $10k to spend on training: that's how I got my CCNP.

    To start the process find your local One Stop []. Go there and sign up and attend there introduction seminar. After that you should be assigned a case worker. From there do everything they ask and hopefully you'll be accepted.

    Good luck!
  • Well.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ZoneGray ( 168419 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:52PM (#5098654) Homepage
    Well, this may be a little off-topic, but when I was hiring (current position doesn't involve it), I NEVER looked for certifications. Never, ever, ever. It almost counted against somebody if they emphasized certs too much. Of course, that was me, and it's a fact of life that a lot of companies do look at them.

    More to the point, though, is that hiring in IT is practically at a standstill right now, and it's not limited to Silicon Valley. As technology progresses, people are learning to do the job with fewer people. Five years ago, you'd figure one IT guy to support about 30 seats. Now it's more like one person per 70-90 seats. And the inrush of people during the bubble years means that the supply/demand balance is incredibly out of whack. My old boss in SF was the best I've ever worked for, he has the best connections you could have out there, 15+ years of big name experience, and he's been out of work for 18 months. So right now, it doesn't matter what you have on your resume, if you're not currently working, or don't know somebody who's hiring, it's going to be incredibly hard to get a job in IT. I wouldn't spend a nickle of my own money getting certified, because right now it just isn't going to help. A lot of the ads you see posted are just there so the hiring manager can say he did a thorough search, but odds are he already knows who he wants to hire.
  • I'm in a similar position as you, although I'm slightly different: I come from a CS background, focusing a lot on graphics at my school. After I got my MSCS though in 2000, I went to work for a non-graphics related software company. This was during the height of the era, and I was sort of following the money instead of my main passions, I have to admit. ;-) I don't regret working there though, learned a lot, met cool people, got a overview of the entire SW dev cycle and then some. Now though, I'm on the job market again, looking to get back into my main interests, graphics/rendering/games (anyone want to hire me? See my .sig...).

    While this may not be directly applicable to your situation as a sysadmin where you're not churning out a deliverable product, for me, I've been writing my own little demo programs and even articles, which helps both my own learning, demonstrates a genuine interest to employers (you're willing to take the initiative to learn on your own, outside of requirements), and allows you to have a tangible "portfolio" of work to show employers.

    Perhaps you could learn on your own and do your own exploring (in conjunction with "formal" traning) write articles about various sysadmin tasks, or various tricks that would be helpful in the task. Post them on a website, and put that in your resume, for instance.

  • How much money are you planning on spending? If you want really excellent training, it's going to cost a fair amount of money. Usually around $1500-$2500 ish a week. And you have to decide what you want training in. If you're interested in Solaris, Sun offers a bunch of classes in several New York facilities. Here's a link to their training site: Sun Solaris Training []

    The couple of classes I've had from Sun have been quite good. Some hands on on equipment that I don't own myself at clean facilities with knowlegable instructors. If you want Linux training, probably the easiest/best place to get it is from Red Hat. They also have a site in NYC, in the financial district, and they provide lunch every day (very cool). Their classes also have hands on labs, but the equipment isn't anything that you wouldn't have at your own house. They teach their classes on PCs. Red Hat's site is Red Hat Leaning Services []

    Going to the product manufacturer is usually the best way to get top notch training, I'm just using Sun and Red Hat as examples, they have been the ones that I was most happy with. They, product manufacturers, hire instructors who are familiar with the product and who can answer a fair amount (maybe even all) of your questions. And unlike CBT, can provide alternative explanations when the one they use just doesn't get through to you.

    The big problem with going to these classes is that, while good, they can be prohibitively expensive. If this is a limiting factor for you, then someone above suggested Community College. I think that this was an excellent suggestion. They are far less expensive, but it's been my experience that the instruction is not always as good.

  • Certifications are for generally for people who ALREADY have the hands on and practical knowledge/experience and just need a piece of paper to prove it.

    If your needing to be taught something new then you should go to college (just take classes that are in interesting to you - not that you need to go for another 4 years or anything). Thats what it's for.
  • Too many resumes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnVisiCrypt ( 178985 ) <groovetheorist@hotmail. c o m> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @07:54PM (#5098675)
    Perhaps the problem is in that "Over 800 resumes" in one year.

    As someone who does first line review and decisions of candidates, I can say with certainly that a resume that appears to be crafted to address each need that we state in the ad is more likely to get considered. Obviously, there are limits to this, but you may want to consider more closely the idea of putting more effort into fewer resumes, rather than a blanketing of 800 or so.
    • Sweet hell. I sure looked bad there. I should have put more care into crafting my response. That should have been:

      As someone who does first line review and interviewing of candidates, I can say with certainty
      • As someone who does first line review and interviewing of candidates, I can say with certainty[...]

        Well, that's why I use a cover letter. It's fairly straightforward to address each point in a job req. there, and I don't have to rework the resume and still have it look nice. Besides, do you really want me to list just the things you specify in the job req. on my resume? That might leave some ugly gaps.

  • My company sells practice exams ( Our main seller is the Cisco ones. But we also have all the other big ones (total I think 300+) We also have Linux/Solaris/Checkpoint/Java...

    Also for those who are out of a job, we are looking for exam authors. Basicly anyone can start, and authours recive 40% of sales. Contact me at raphael at boson . com
  • I have just come back from the first part of a Java course at City University []. The teacher emphasised that he was not grooming us for the Sun Exam, rather the concepts of OO modelling etc. The course cost £240 (about $350 USD) for ten weeks of two hours a week lessons.
  • As an instructor for a little-training-company-that could, TechSkills [], I agree with much that's been said about the glut of CompTIA (and Microsoft, for that matter) certified individuals. However, it should be very clear that the glut is irrelevant to HR depts.

    To answer the original question, I refer you to the link above. ;)

    I'm currently based in Phoenix, but TechSkills has thirty-some branches around the states, and, of course, distance-learning options.

    And, yes, we do more than just 'teach to the exams'.

    -ELf: A+, Network+, i-Net+, Linux+, CCNA, MCIWA, MCSA
  • Go to the source (Score:3, Informative)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @08:00PM (#5098711)
    Since you mentioned Solaris, I will point out that the Sun training classes I have been to were all superb. Sun's professors all have related college degrees and years of real experience. Classrooms are top-notch, with Sun boxes on well-configured networks. The books are actually useful, although some are the size of phone books. Sun's tests are designed around the courses and vice-versa, so you can take the class, actually learn something, and then get certified.

    Sun's education program does have some downsides. First and formost, the classes are expensive, ranging from 2000 to 4000 dollaris. Second, Sun's certification exams suck, and some of them appear to have be written by people with a very poor grasp of the english language; some of the questions on the Solaris 7 Exam part II were so poorly written that none of the answers made sense.

    If you want to try Sun, check out

    One more piece of advice, many people in training are there because of new project ramp-ups, and have employers who are hiring, so take resumes on paper, floppy, and CD.
    • For sun stuff there is also the option I took ..

      Get official Sun manuals

      Take 1 week to study first book
      Take 2 days to study cram session book

      Take Solaris Admin 1

      Read second official book - 1 week
      Read brief section in cram book

      Take Solaris Admin 2

      Result .. $300 for the testing center and a nice piece of paper sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard from SUN.

      Other recommendation for this test ..

      Test is NOT adaptive

      Study basic commmand syntax .. this will weed out invalid answers quite often.

      Don't skip on the admin 1 chapters dealing with older technology like NIS / NIS+ .. Solaris 2.51 - 8 don't have a built in LDAP support .. and solaris loves to have different name services available .. like setting a NIS domain name even if you are on local files only.

      DO skip the chapter on LPR .. there isn't anything about printing on the test.

      Knowing how to use command line for backing up to tape (not just tar) and using Solaris fdisk (format command) is needed

      About 1/2 of it is specific commands and options .. going back to the syntax above, Solaris / Sun teaches ksh or csh .. not bash.

      The tests themselves are not to bad, standard question answer steps.

      Each runs about 65 questions each.

      Solaris Admin 1 pass grade is 67%
      Solaris Admin 2 pass grade is 70%

      Things that threw me off a little were vi syntax and per directory ACLs .. in VI there are 3 ways to do most anything and they want it one way.

      Also they want the answers using true unix VI .. no vim or others .. so if you for example try to move around with the arrow keys while in insert mode it will screw up.

      I passed both tests within a 2 weeks of each other, as required by my employer.
  • Only 800 resumes in a year? You should upgrade to the new Resume Spammer 3.0 software. It's multi language features allow you to send resume to every job opening in every country. Seriously though, are these quality resumes your sending out that include a cover letter tailored to the particular position you're applying for? I also like to tweak my resume a bit to emphasize the particular skills they're looking for.
  • Check The Resume (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @08:10PM (#5098785)
    I know it sounds trivial and off topic but I'm serious. Check your resume.

    Unless you're horribly unqualified or applying for jobs that're totally out of your league, you should have got at least a few responses off 800 resumes - assuming they're great resumes.

    I went through 6 months of searching, ending a little over a year ago. About the only thing that really changed from the beginning, where I was getting no responses, to the end, where I was getting [relatively] regular ones, was the resume. Sure, I worked on my skillsets but self-taught Perl wasn't what made the difference.

    The point is, I started by writing great resumes that focused on everything I, as a tech, thought was valuable. Unfortunately, what's valuable to a tech and what gets you employed as a tech are two totally different things.

    You put down that you have JSP, the HR department that're told to look for a web programmer with Java&JSP will discount you because you don't have "Java" - the other techs will never see the resume to realise the mistake. You put down a list of dry technical skills (because it's a tech position, after all) and the "manager" of the department who has a business degree and no IT experience won't hire you because they're looking for a team player. You try listing every technical skill and spill on to a third page - it gets thrown in the trash by someone who's received 300 resumes and doesn't want the hassle of reading to the last page where you mention the valuable stuff or they skip straight to the middle and miss the things you carefully put at the front.

    Those O'Reilly books that have been tempting you will be one of the best investments you've ever made once you're working. Until then, a really good resume book is probably more valuable.

    I honestly believe that, stupid as it may be, a perfect resume will get a significantly less skilled person a job much faster in the current flooded market than a significantly more skilled person with an "adequate" resume.

    Like I said at the start, unless you're applying way out of your league, with 800 refusals, your resume is almost certainly good but not the perfect example that you need in the current market.
    • Re:Check The Resume (Score:5, Informative)

      by Clover_Kicker ( 20761 ) <> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @08:36PM (#5098949)
      >I know it sounds trivial and off topic but I'm serious. Check your

      Best resume advice I've seen: atures/resume.html []
  • by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @08:26PM (#5098895) Homepage
    I faced a similar problem of hitting a wall of advancement and went back to school. I'm attending a real state university where I'm upgrading my Computer Information Systems associate degree to a Computer Science bachelor degree (with both math and business administration as minors).

    Real universities will have fully stocked computer labs. Many are Microsoft or Cisco affiliated training partners so if you want to get the enterprise software (Exchange, IIS, MOM) or have a lab full of nice Catalyst routers to play with they are the place to go.

    Most human resources people will perk up at an accredited university on a resume than someplace like Learning Tree or Global Knowledge.
  • I was wondering what the original poster meant by his statement that the Learning Tree's policies are geared towards B-to-B training. I've taken courses at the Learning Tree and, from what I can tell, anybody who is willing to pony up the cash for the tuition is welcome to attend.

    Personally, I've had good experiences at the Learning Tree. Their instructors aren't full-time teachers; they are experienced IT professionals who have taken time off from their "real jobs" to earn a few bucks as instructors. Because they have real-world experience, they don't just parrot what's on the syllabus.

    In addition, the facilities at the Learning Tree are top-notch. Most classes have labs that give you the hands-on experience that you need to really understand the material.

    The only downside is that the classes are a little on the pricey side, in my opinion. If I remember correctly, it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 per course. You'll probably get a better value at your local university. However, I think the Learning Tree is still a decent option.
  • Here's my big gripe about Certificate Programs.

    Just about every MSCE/RHCE/A+/CCNA/whatnot course I have seen is comprised of several all-day courses. Usually they come in a format like 'Monday-Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm' or '5 saturdays, 8:30am - 5:30pm'.

    I've done this back in college and as recently as 2 months ago, and everyone I have spoken to agrees.

    YOU ARE NOT A ROBOT. This is not learning, it's cramming. It is impossible to learn that way. Your brain cannot retain that many new facts for a long period of time.

    If you spend 8 hours a day in a classroom, you will forget the vast majority of the knowledge in a few weeks. Sure, you may pass your CCNA, but you won't be able to apply your knowledge afterwards, so what's the point?

    If you do take these classes, take it for review, if you can afford it. (The RHCE courses cost about $3000, not including the $700 test).

    The only real way to learn computers is a gradual, hands-on approach. Give yourself some time to retain the knowledge.

    Go ahead, take the test, get the certificate. $700 isn't much money, relatively speaking, and will probably pay for itself quickly.

    Read books, practice, take breaks. It's the only way to learn.
  • the SUNY system (State University of New York) as a New york native. I'm on the other side of the state from you, but I've been to "technical schools", certification schools, and the SUNY system. Yeah, a degree takes a lot longer and it's a lot more work - but I've found that the state colleges and universities are quite thorough and in-depth, at least in my area (Lewiston-Queenston border/Niagara Falls) The "technical" and certification schools were basically ripoff cram courses for exams, with no real in-depth knowledge.

    The state system has world-class equipment too, (again, at least in my area) often used to support other academic areas in the school system.

    Just a thought, anyway. Hope you consider it.
  • Most the schools are worth a dam, the instructors are others out of work and can't find work. There are good school but hard to find. Usually little places that understand hands-on is the key and classes need to be longer than a week. In many way college/university extention courses are better because they run for a few weeks. That give you time to play with the info and come back and ask questions. Also helps to meet others and make some contacts.

    The best training is to buy some hardware and setup a lab at home. Having a few machines, and basic network gear you can learn a lot. Then go and do some volenteer work. Lots of charities and other organizations need help with web sites and other computer tasks. You get some hands-on work for your resume and may meet some other with jobs.
  • Hi. I'm a trainer (Score:4, Informative)

    by slaker ( 53818 ) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @09:45PM (#5099328)
    I'm a trainer. I teach Comptia (A+, N+, Server+) and Microsoft (the MCSE/MCSA ones) exams.

    I'm not *really* a trainer. I'm a guy who has a whole bunch of certifications. I have about six years of experience as a consultant-type, but I'm doing training now. Training means not have to look for work every x months, and I like that.

    Here's the deal: Nearly as I can tell, there are about three different types of training out there. There is "diploma mill" training, the MCSE in 2-weeks or your money back bullshit. Maybe that works for smoeone who is already an MCSE. It doesn't help the guy who hasn't touched a PC in three years.
    There's also "softball" training. Teach straight out of a book, do gentle lessons, and hope students are smart enough to pick up the slack with their own motivation. For some people, a step in the right direction is good enough. Mostly, though, training of this sort isn't going to lead to long-term retention of information, and it's of dubious use for certification exams. I started out teaching this way.
    The last way to teach is never-ending lab exercises. This requires students motivated and interested in the material (i.e. do the reading beforehand) and a LOT of time. You'll retain more knowledge of a complex process if you've actually carried it out. The important thing an instructor can add here is overarching understanding of the process. Following a recipie online is great for getting the job done, but a good teacher can explain WHY things are the way they are, and deeper understanding should hopefully transfer to general success on these exams, even if you miss a point here or there. Of course, if you're OK with the "big picture", you can probably get just as far in the lab you have set up at home. I don't always have time to do the labs I want during class, but I always make time before and/or after for extra lab work, on top of normal classroom time. It helps my students a lot.

    Of course, every training place will tell you their stuff is hands on. That certainly isn't the case. Ask to sit in on a class or two. If you're paying $2000 for a class, they shouldn't have any problem with that. Judge for yourself.

    Finally, places that trumpet unusually high pass-rates are probably doing something slightly unethical to get them. I've heard stories. I'm sure others have, too.

    Whatever the subject, if you're paying for a class, what you're paying for is a knowledgable instructor and adequate facilities. Those are things you can't judge without some first-hand experience.

    Other things: Seems to me that the most respected IT certs all have a hands-on component. Master CNE, RHCE, most Cisco exams. Something to keep in mind when you become the 1,000,000th person to pass 70-210.

    A great generalist IT guy is an awesome resource to have, but I always tell my students that it's a hard row to hoe. I always suggest to my students that becoming an expert in a subject besides Windows Support or hardware repair, will probably get them more attention within the field than bog-standard A+/N+/MCSE certs.
  • I hate to say it, but if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

    I had a huge problem finding work last year until I did a 'George Costanza' (just turn up after the interview like you got the job). After a week I had found that all the other guys I was working with - it was a crappy NT4 rollout - had lied on their CV's and didn't know jack! Bah! I almost ended up running the thing, plus I was being paid less than some of the... offtopic, sorry.

    So anyway, a few people I know who have found it hard to get work have simply lied about the last few months and put in a job overseas somwhere where no one is going to check up on you. I mean, who is going to call Europe and get the run around if you say you worked on a contract in Uzbekistan for 6 months for a UK oil company?

    Anyway, just a sloution. Personally, I'm off IT. I can't stand most of the people I end up working with (see 'Office Space') and I'm over sitting in front of a non-LCD screen all day.
  • I opened up my school two years ago to combat exactly the type of experience that he's talking about. I was a technical trainer for a few years, and kept getting fired from all of the centers (you can't call them schools) I worked at, because I always added things to the curriculum, extended classes longer than they were supposed to, badmouthed the terrible equipment that was used at these centers, etc.

    At my school, I still teach courses, and I have my instructors teach in the same way that I do. For example, in my MCSE classes, we teach the students how to install several different flavors of *nix and 3 different versions of netware, then teach them how make them all play nice with each other. Our MS SQL classes teach MySQL and Oracle. Every student gets a server to play with, etc. Our courses are all taught in hands-on labs, where the instructors' lecture is immediately applied to the machine in front of the student. Our philosophy is to teach you how to do your job and to be prepared for any eventuality. The exams are an afterthought to the knowledge of how to make things run.

    I realize that my school is in the minority. The majority of my local competitors are churn and burn certification factories. The difference is that I am a teacher and a geek, while the owners of other schools are either glorified sales people or businessmen with no understanding of the technology education process. I believe you when you say that the majority of schools you've seen are like that.

    My advice is to attend a school where they use multiple resources in class, not just the vendor approved curriculum. Only take courses from instructors with broad experience. If possible, attend a school where geeks, trainers and technologists are in decision-making positions. New york should have at least ONE education-oriented technical school that's not an churn and burn. And above all, READ THE ENROLLMENT CONTRACT! That's where they'll screw you.

    Good luck with finding an ethical and qualified technical training school. Lord knows I try to make mine as perfect (i.e. education and student friendly, not existing for the sole purpose of profit and churning) as possible.

  • Oracle 9i for private individuals is free

    buy a 50$ DBA book and sit down and learn that shit

    As with online job resumes... here's a tip i picked up. Don't bother.. You go online only to find the listing. However most times you will see an email too. Better to submit your resume directly ALONG WITH A COVER LETTER!!!

    A cover letter is very important and make sure you triple check it for grammar spelling and all those other stupid nonsense u may normally say.

    Landing the interview is all about the presentation. Make sure you present yourself in your cover letter. If you think you know oracle after doing it on your own make sure your resume reflects this. Look on the net on how to write a technical resume as oppose to your say business resume

    The NY market is far from flat

    I have yet to meet anyone I know personally who couldn't get a job in the IT market in NY.
  • I don't place a lot on Certs. I just don't

    An applicant with a CNE. MCSE, CCNA, A+, Solaris, CLP kinda scares me. Why have you been spending so much money to prove your salt?

    I also DO NOT hold and MCSE against people. So you went for a cert, and got it good for you. I personally have a CNA, CNE, CLP and Solaris. Each time they were gotten to "show" I had chops in the respective fields.
  • OK, here goes. I have a B.A. in English from UF - no real help there, except that some companies' hiring policies require bachelor degrees for certain positions.

    I have taken the following classes from the listed vendors and rate them accordingly (1-10).

    Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 - Executrain (7)
    Decent facilities and equipment, knowledgeable instructors, but nothing really special and very accelerated. Expect to know the material before you arrive.

    Netware 5 Advanced Administration - Executrain (7)
    Same as above.

    Hands-On Internetworking with TCP/IP - Global Knowledge (10)
    Facilities were in a local hotel - nice, convenient, good equipment. Extremely knowledgeable instructor. A+

    Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices - Princeton Somethingorother (6)
    Good equipment, but sandwiched us into the training room at CompUSA which was like a glorified closet. Hot as hell with all the equipment. Instructor so-so knowledgeable.

    Windows 2000 Advanced Server - New Horizons (7)
    Good facilities and equipment, knowledgeable instructors. Maybe it was the material that turned me off.

    Designing Secure MS Networks - New Horizons (7)
    Same as above. Almost fell asleep on last day.

    CISSP Bootcamp - Intense School (10)
    Better study a lot before attempting one of these. Very fast paced. Extremely knowledgeable instructor. Might not have passed exam without this class.

    Applied Hacking and Countermeasures - Intense School (8)
    Fun. Good instructors (military), great lab. Lots of fun. Wardriving field trip on last day. Don't expect to make money after taking this class though. Strictly a go-if-it's-paid-for thing.

    All in all I would recommend making a decision about what field you would like to work in and focus on that track. I will probably never use Netware anywhere but my current 9-5, so that's out. Read the local ads and see what they are hiring or consider relocating.

    My $.02

  • I learn best by demonstration and instruction so CBT CD-ROMs and 'go-read-a-book' aren't viable options for me.

    If by 'best' you mean 'only' then that sentance might make sense. Otherwise, go read a damn book.
  • SANS? (Score:2, Informative)

    by elhondo ( 545224 )
    I think it's silly to think that no one is hiring. People get promoted, die, move on, and all of that sort of thing. But it's hard to have something on your resume that people respect. For myself, there were only a couple certs that gave immediate cred - CCIE, and one of the SANS certs. CCIE because the wannabe-to-actual ratio was high; and the SANS certs because you can go and view the paper that got them the certification. SANS papers can give you a real insight into what people are used to working with.
  • Do what you love (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Friday January 17, 2003 @12:54AM (#5100002) Homepage Journal

    I went through a turning point in my career some time in 1998. I was a Novell CNE, and it became obvious to me that I needed to get an MCSE to stay competitive in the systems administration/integration job market. And so I set out to do so.

    I knew enough about Novell to see the stupid games commercial software vendors play with each other at the expense of the customer and the sanity of consultants hired to make sense of the mess. Starting on the MCSE training track was sufficient to raise my level of disgust to the point that I began questioning my career. My impression was that the industry was soulless, that hard work was not rewarded, and that the only way to make money in the business was to take advantage of customers and profit by their ignorance.

    Just as I was thinking of opening a restaurant, the nagging love that I'd always had for working with computers took hold, so I set myself to the task of reinventing myself.

    I'd started playing with Linux just a few months before, and was hopelessly inept, but found that it had rekindled my love for working with computers. Up to this point, however, I'd never considered it more than a hobby. I remembered, however, that my original decision to pursue IT was not a matter of economics, but because I really loved it. I got into computers because of the joy of programming on my C64. Long before computers were cool; long before I even knew I could make money working with them, I loved them. I realized that my hobby with Linux was in keeping with my beginnings in computers, but that I'd been restricting the time I spent with it so that I could keep up with the latest interopability problems with Groupwise and Exchange.

    I already knew I couln't go to another training class; that I couldn't pick up another trade rag; that I couldn't spend the rest of my career begging support reps to tell me the secrets of making shit work that are known only in internal documents, protected by inane marketing concerns. So despite how stupid a move it seemed at the time, I had no choice but to spend my downtime studying Linux. I started my career following my interests, and I knew I had to keep doing so.

    Then, the bottom fell out of the IT industry. In 2001, the company I was with was absorbed by another one, and in the process about 90% of the original staff was eventually hemorrhaged. I saw the writing on the wall before it really got bad, and managed to round up enough solo Linux work to get out while they were still in the mood to beg me to stay. I refused. I did solo Linux consulting for a while, then landed a hot job with a very successful network outfit. I now work exclusively in Linux, writing network automation scripting and performing enterprise security audits. I've remained employed throughout the recession thus far, and my income has steadily increased.

    Do what you love. The rest will follow. Life's too short to deal with bullshit.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Friday January 17, 2003 @03:28AM (#5100483) Homepage
    Yes, it's true. You're dreaming. You are in a fictional bubble world where jobs exist in the computer industry (particularly NYC, of all places to expect such a thing to be the case!), minimal computer knowledge (a single OS - Windows, at that), minimal applicable networking knowledge, an unrealistic expectation of educational facilities and organizations, and a truely truely perverse view of what you think you're worth to the economy.

    First off: where have you been? The economy has been in increased recession for the last two years, nearly. I know of people in large metropolitan areas who have 4 year CS degrees at prestigious schools, plus 2+ years of high level administration experience making 22.5k USD a year, with no benefits.

    Meanwhile, here you are, a -Windows- administrator (do not even think of calling that a sysadmin - sysadmin is a UNIX has always been UNIX-specific), just expecting for someone to bight your resume? I've got news for you: if you haven't figured out yet after sending out even 400 applications that you're under-qualified for the kinds of jobs you're applying for, you need a serious reality adjustment.

    If anything, the type of job you've applied for is the type that companies are cutting back on the most, relying on a skeleton crew until the recession ends.

    If you really want to work with computers, -try- and get a tech support job. I wish you luck. You'll need it.

    I know of quite a few people who are stellar programmers, experienced UNIX sysadmins and windows administrators - your all-around qualified individuals for pretty damned near anything you could put them to - who are working tech-support level jobs right now because there's just nothing else in the field available. Given your (apparent) mindset, you'd be bantha fodder against people like this, even with 4 more years of schooling.

    Now, I too find I learn in the same fashion that you do - it only makes sense, because most humans do. It's the way we've been designed, evolved - whatever. The point being, what you're asking for is direct hands-on tutlage or an apprenticeship. If it's apprenticeship you want, seek out a company and ask to pay them to work under strict supervision of their dominant sysadmin. That's probably your best chance.

    Here is my honest and most sincere advice for you: forget about computers. There are many, many more qualified people, many, many more -skilled- people. It's a recession, for crying out loud - one that doesn't promise to let up for a while, either, as any Econ 101 student would be able to tell you. Use your head and go to school for something that's got a fairly high failsafe level with a diverse career choice after graduation - like a business or telecommunications major. You've already demonstrated your lack of head for computers by asking one too many stupid questions.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears